Get on board so we can begin Warrnambool rail project, Vic gov says

Get on board: The state government says the Warrnambool line upgrade could being right away if the federal government released funding.
Get on board: The state government says the Warrnambool line upgrade could being right away if the federal government released funding.

A $114 million upgrade of the Warrnambool line that would pave the way for modern V/Locity cars to run could begin straight away if the federal government freed up funds, the state government says.

A state government spokeswoman said the works could begin tomorrow if money the federal government promised for Victoria’s $1.57 billion Regional Rail Revival was handed over.

“Successive federal infrastructure ministers have publicly confirmed that the Andrews Labor Government has done the groundwork needed to get started on the Warrnambool line upgrade,” she said.

The federal government has promised $1.42 billion towards the package.

The fact the works could begin right away came to light after a spokeswoman for the new Infrastructure Minister, Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack, said on Tuesday he would meet with Victorian Transport Minister Jacinta Allan about the deal within weeks.

At the beginning of the month, Ms Allan sent a letter to the new Infrastructure Minister, warning delays in signing off on the promised funding was “putting at risk the timely delivery of these important projects for communities in regional Victoria”.

“For its part, Victoria has provided all Project Proposal Reports (PPR) and related information for the flow of the first tranche of these funds,” the letter read.

Earlier in the week the state opposition promised to spend $633 million on a new fleet of V/Locity trains that would see rail cars capable of speeds up to 160 km/h travelling on the Warrnambool line. The modern carriages will only be able to run on the line if the $114 million project takes place.

Readers of The Standard reacted to the news on social media.

Warrnambool resident Shaunie O’Connor, who previously spoke about her difficult using the train to get to medical appointments in Melbourne and Geelong, said she experienced a delay of more than an hour using the train on Tuesday evening.

“No end in sight of the problems at all,” she wrote.